Amazon Web Services (AWS) today announced Amazon Chime, a new unified communications service that makes meetings easier and more efficient than ever before.
With Amazon Chime, customers can start high-quality video and audio meetings with one-click, allowing customers to host or join a meeting, chat, and share content and screens with a seamless, synchronized experience across desktops, iOS, and Android devices.
Beyond VoIP calling and video messaging, Chime includes virtual meetings, allowing users to host or join a remote meeting through the service. Pricing starts at $2.50 per user per month on the lowest end, with a higher tier plan of $15 per user which includes video and screen-sharing among other features. There is a basic option available for free but that is limited to video calls and chat rooms between two users.
In a world where meeting attendees are often not in the same city, much less the same office building, unified communications has become increasingly more important. Arguably the most prevalent form of unified communications is meetings. Most meetings solutions are disappointing. They’re clunky and hard to use, the video is grainy and disconnects frequently, the audio quality is poor, there’s constant background noise and it’s impossible to know who’s causing it, they require long PINs to enter and join a call, and have second-rate mobile features and apps. Further, most are only good at one thing (e.g. voice calls, video conferencing, screen sharing, or instant messaging), so users often have to toggle between several different tools, none of which really solve their problem.
The move is not only an alternative to communication services like Skype for business or Google Hangouts, but it is also takes AWS into the space of virtual meeting management, where companies like GoToMeeting and Cisco (WebEx) are the best known players.
Gene Farrell, Vice President of enterprise applications at AWS, said,
“It’s pretty hard to find people who actually like the technology they use for meetings today. Most meeting applications or services are hard to use, deliver bad audio and video, require constant switching between multiple tools to do everything they want, and are way too expensive,”
“Amazon Chime delivers frustration-free meetings, allowing users to be productive from anywhere. And with no ongoing maintenance or management fees, Amazon Chime is a great choice for companies that are looking for a solution to meetings that their employees will love to use.”
Amazon Chime takes frustration out of meetings, delivering very high quality video, voice, chat, and screen sharing. Amazon Chime calls all participants when a meeting starts so joining a meeting is as easy as clicking a button in the app, no PIN required. When there’s noise on calls (think about how often somebody has to say things like “could you please stop typing so close to the speaker”) or somebody joins or drops mid-call, there’s no longer mystery who it is as Amazon Chime shows a visual roster of all attendees. And, any attendee has the power to put an end to background noise by muting any noisy line.
Amazon Chime offers strong mobile and desktop apps, and keeps meetings and chats synchronized across devices, so users can join meetings from anywhere via Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows apps (and seamlessly switch from mobile to desktop, or app to app whenever needed). Amazon Chime can be integrated with existing corporate directories, and provides IT administrators the ability to manage identities and control access across an organization. Amazon Chime requires no upfront investments, complicated deployment, or ongoing maintenance – customers can simply download the application and get started using the service in minutes. And Amazon Chime is one-third the cost of traditional solutions.
Amazon Chime offers the following benefits:
- Like being in the same room, even when miles apart: Amazon Chime uses noise-cancelling wideband audio to deliver high-quality audio and crisp, clear HD video to make it easier to have real conversations in a meeting. And with Amazon Chime, video works great across all user devices and many conference room video systems with no upgrades required.
- On-time meetings that can be joined with a single-click: Dialing into meetings has never been easier. Instead of trying to type in those hard-to-remember multi-digit pins, Amazon Chime calls participants when it is time for the meeting to start and lets them join with a single-click. And, those who are running behind can tap a “running late” button to automatically notify everyone in the meeting.
- The end of “who just joined?”: Once in the meeting, Amazon Chime provides a visual roster that allows users to see exactly who has joined, who is running late, and who can’t make it. It also allows everyone to see who is talking or where background noise is coming from – no more barking dogs or loud typists – and anyone on the call can easily mute that participant.
- Work from anywhere: Amazon Chime was built for mobile use from day one. With easy-to-use apps for Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows, Amazon Chime keeps meetings and chats synchronized across devices, and users can join meetings from any device and easily switch devices – even in the middle of a meeting.
- Sharing made easy: Amazon Chime makes it easy to collaborate. When in a meeting, anyone can share their screen, instantly, without asking a host to “pass the ball,” or jump to a different application. For ongoing collaboration outside of meetings, Amazon Chime offers chat rooms that allow people to work together in a single place, securely storing chat history and files for ongoing reference.
Amazon Chime will soon be available through APN partners Level 3 and Vonage. With availability scheduled for the second quarter of 2017, Level 3 will add Amazon Chime to its suite of unified communications and collaboration solutions, providing enterprises with another powerful solution to help simplify and enhance communications. Also scheduled to be available in the second quarter of 2017, Vonage will provide Amazon Chime Pro Edition to its business customers at no additional cost, delivering a richer conferencing, video, and collaboration experience integrated with Vonage’s full range of unified communications solutions that are backed by the quality, strength, and reliability of the Vonagenetwork.
Amazon Chime is now available in three versions. Amazon Chime Basic Edition is free and lets users attend meetings, call another person using voice or video, and use Amazon Chime’s messaging and chat capabilities.
Amazon Chime Plus Edition adds user management, such as the ability to manage an entire e-mail domain, disable accounts, or configure Active Directory, as well as 1GB per user of message retention – all for $2.50 per user, per month.
Amazon Chime Pro Edition adds the ability to host meetings with screen sharing and video for up to 100 users and also includes support for mobile, laptop, and in-room video along with unlimited VoIP support – all for $15 per user, per month.